Vivisection Shorts.


Lab animals drown

After superstorm Sandy flooded New York University’s medical research laboratories, first accounts were of Herculean rescue efforts. But critics are asking whether the laboratories did everything they could – and whether they followed government guidelines – to protect the research animals. Thousands of animals, mostly mice housed in the basement of one NYU Langone Medical Centre building on the East River in Manhattan, died during the storm.  All told, said NYU spokeswoman Jessica Guenzel, the biomedical facility lost 7,660 cages of mice and 22 cages of rats. Each cage houses between 1 and 7 animals, she said. “This happens again and again and research labs never learn,” said Fran Sharples, director of the Board on Life Sciences at the congressionally chartered National Academy of Sciences (NAS).  “Anybody with half a brain knows you do a site-specific analysis” to understand the risk of disasters, she said, “and it’s really stupid to put your animals in the basement if you’re in a flood zone.”  It’s not as if scientists didn’t have recent lessons in the risk of natural disasters to biomedical research, she said. In 2001, tens of thousands of mice and scores of monkeys and dogs were lost when Hurricane Allison struck Houston; and in 2005, some 10,000 lab animals drowned when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Scientists contacted by Reuters say there was a double whammy. Flooding that overwhelmed the basements drowned some animals, while toxic fumes from breaches in the diesel fuel tank and lines that supplied back-up generators killed others.

Taking one giant leap backwards, NASA has called on researchers to submit funding applications for projects which may involve the use of primates, dogs, cats and other animals, provoking condemnation from NAVS and ADI.    The purpose of the research is to study how the environment in space affects biological processes, enabling NASA to develop “a safe, productive human presence in space for extended periods”.


Unwanted monkeys slaughtered

A BUAV investigation has uncovered the appalling slaughter of hundreds of monkeys at the Noveprim primate breeding farm in Mauritius. Shocking images show discarded dead monkeys stacked in piles on the floor or dumped in bins like garbage. Other images show mutilated bodies in a skip awaiting incineration. This is taking place on the holiday island of Mauritius where ­monkeys are plucked from the wild then exported to UK firms, which pay up to £260 for each one they buy. The barbaric slaughter is set to continue throughout October and November, allegedly because overseas laboratories are requesting primates weighing less than 3.5kg. The majority of monkeys being killed are adult males weighing over 4kg although the BUAV has learned that Noveprim is also killing pregnant females and baby monkeys because the farm no longer has a use for these animals. Noveprim is a major exporter of monkeys to the UK, Spain and the USA. The company is approved by the UK Home Office to supply monkeys to UK laboratories. The company is 47% owned by CovanceUK, a research and vivisection organisation based in Harrogate, North ­Yorks.  Official figures show that in 2011, 518 monkeys were ­exported to the UK from Mauritius. In 2010, that increased to 1,059. Only the US bought more. Thousands of live tests are carried out each year in UK labs. 75% of the monkeys are used for toxicology tests on new drugs. Despite this slaughter, Noveprim continues to have traps for wild monkeys. BUAV is calling upon the Prime Minister of Mauritius to take immediate action to halt these killings and for the monkeys to be released back into the wild where they belong to live out the rest of their lives freely. They also demand the UK Government to ban the import of monkeys from Mauritius. A major investigation carried out by the BUAV in September 2010 obtained shocking evidence of the cruelty and suffering involved in the trapping and breeding of the wild monkeys on the island.   TAKE ACTION!  1. Write to the Prime Minister of Mauritius urging him to stop the slaughter: Dr. The Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam. Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, New Treasury Building, Intendance Street, Port Louis, Republic of Mauritius Email:  2. Write to Mauritius High Commission in the UK calling for the slaughter to stop: His Excellency Mr Abhimanu Kundasamy, Mauritius High Commission, 32-33 Elvaston Place, London  SW7 5NW. Email:  3. Write to the UK Home Office calling for a ban on the import of monkeys from Mauritius: Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State, Home Office, Direct Communications Unit, 2 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DF
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Opposition to animal use growing

Public opposition to the use of animals in medical research is growing and trust in both scientists and the rules governing the controversial practice is falling, new government-funded research shows.  37% now class themselves as “objectors” to the practice. Their number has been rising steadily since the 29% recorded in 2006 and 35 % seen in 2010, though is still lower than the 39% found in 2002, according to the latest research into public attitudes on the issue by Ipsos MORI. Objectors either do not support the use of animals in experimentation because of concern for animal welfare (32%) or believe the government should ban experiments on animals for any form of research (21%), or both. They are more heavily female (41%) than male (33%) and more likely to be those aged 15 to 24 (55%) and also those in the lowest socio-economic class ranked as DE (51% compared to 23% of ABs). That hardening of attitudes is part of what Ipsos MORI called a “significant” shift away from people endorsing the need for use of animals in such projects.

While 85% of the 1,026 Britons aged 15 and older questioned “conditionally” support the practice, this is down from the 90% found in 2010, according to the poll, which the Dept for Business, Innovation and Skills paid for.  “In 2012, the public are less trusting of scientists not to cause unnecessary suffering in the animals involved (47% now, 54% in 2010), but are also less alert to the possibility of experiments being needlessly duplicated (51% now, 61% in 2010).” While 54% trust the government’s inspectorate and 53% think Britain’s rules governing animal experimentation, 43% do not trust the regulatory system – down from 56% in 2010. But overall 40% said they wanted to know more about animal experimentation before forming a view. The findings have prompted scientists, medical research charities, drug firms and universities to pledge to be more open about the use of animals in experiments in a bid to gain more widespread public support.

Professor Sir John Tooke, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said they were “concerned” at the poll’s results. Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said that, while two-thirds of people still accepted the use of animals for medical research, the 10% should be “a wake-up call”. Britain’s life sciences community need to be “more forthright about the fact that without animal research, the bio-pharmaceutical sector cannot continue to innovate new treatments”, he added. Sir Mark Walport, head of the Wellcome Trust, Britain’s biggest charity, denied “complacency” among scientists had led to falling public support. He blamed a continuing “environment of intimidation” which, at its most extreme, constituted “terrorism”, he said. Whitehead said crashing of websites and other illegal tactics had deterred some people involved in conducting or helping animal experimentation.

The poll also found that 9% believe it is acceptable for protestors to occupy research facilities or disrupt firms providing services to such research centres, 8% see roadblocks as acceptable and 2% and 1% respectively see destroying property and physical violence in the same light. David Willetts, the science minister, confirmed that talks are going on with airlines and ferry companies about resuming the import of some live animals which are specially-bred overseas for use in trials into conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. “The government is committed to working to reduce the use of animals in scientific research, but we do recognise that there remains a strong scientific case for the careful regulated use (!!!) of animals in scientific research and that this does play a role in ensuring new medicines are safe and effective”, he added.

Responding to this drop in support for the use of animals in research in the UK, the country’s leading research universities, medical charities and drugs companies launched a new transparency initiative aimed at winning over members of the public to the need for animal research. A total of 15 universities, 4 pharmaceutical firms, and groups such as Cancer Research UK, Parkinson’s UK and the Motor Neurone Disease Association issued a declaration on openness in the use of animals in medical research. “Where possible, we use cells grown in a lab, computer models and human volunteers. When this isn’t possible, research may involve animals,” the declaration reads. “When we need to use animals, we strive to reduce the number needed, and seek to develop viable alternatives.” Penny Hawkins, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: “If the scientific community really wants to address these concerns, it will have to be more honest about the harms caused to animals – which can be very severe – and not just talk about the potential benefits of research.” “Talk is cheap. It’s time to deliver.”


The University of Connecticut paid $12,429 in fines last month for animal welfare violations, the U.S. Dept of Agriculture announced. The fines are for 10 violations observed during inspections between 2008 and 2010, mostly involving the treatment of rabbits at a research facility at the UConn Health Center. 16 Oct


Animal-rights activists are targeting UC San Francisco over testing of a lab monkey who was kept in a medical study for more than 23 months after developing complications due to a surgical procedure, in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act.  From 2008 to 2010, a female rhesus macaque named Petra was the subject of neurological studies aimed at learning more about Parkinson’s disease. But according to a federal inspection report, the primate suffered for months after hardware removal surgery failed to extract a small piece of drug-injection apparatus from inside her head. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals now wants UCSF to return $2.1m in federal grant funding from the National Institutes of Health, in accordance with the agency’s own policies. “NIH has an opportunity to make a clear statement that grant recipients cannot engage in noncompliant activity and expect to keep federal tax dollars,” PETA’s letter states. The agency has yet to respond to PETA’s request. This is not the first time UCSF has faced scrutiny over animal issues. In 2007, a committee of physicians sued the school over about 75 U.S. Dept of Agriculture citations it received between 2001 and 2003.

The school characterized the sanctions as minor, and ultimately the suit was dismissed by a San Francisco judge who said federal regulators – not judges – are in charge of monitoring animal experimentation. In the case of Petra, UCSF documents indicate that the situation required intensive monitoring as the monkey removed her own fur and continually irritated the surgical incision by picking at it, at times causing bacterial infections and leaving dried blood in her cage. After a federal inspector photographed the monkey during a routine check in Oct 2010, the USDA issued an order to the lab Jan. 5 telling it to rectify such animal practices within 3 months. But by that time, Petra already had been euthanized.

UCSF spokeswoman Jennifer O’Brien declined to say whether UCSF would willingly return the public grant money.  She said the university “takes very seriously its responsibility for the humane treatment of the animals it studies.”  She added that researchers were concerned about the monkey’s problems and kept the condition “largely under control without ever fully resolving it.”  O’Brien said experiments on the monkey yielded progress in the field by leading to the development of a human gene therapy clinical trial for Parkinson’s disease. She said Petra had always been slated for euthanasia following the tests.


Thanks to Sue at the SP.